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Nothing But the Art 

Art in the High Desert's outdoor gallery


Art in the High Desert, an annual festival in the Old Mill District, doesn't have a beer garden. There will be no bounce houses, no music stages, no scent of kettle corn wafting through the booths and definitely no tie-dye shirts for sale. The experience that Art in the High Desert has provided in its six-year-run is more sophisticated.

"In 2007 we had a sense that the community needed an opportunity to see high-quality contemporary art," explained Dave Fox, who co-founded the annual juried art show with his wife, Carla. "The galleries are important to our town. I felt—and I still do—that if we can get some really new artists here they can be represented by local galleries."

That's exactly what happened to Pyper Hugos, a metal-worker who transforms old car parts into time-warn, abstract metal jewelry pieces. Last year at the festival, the owner of Wooden Jewel Gallery in Sunriver picked up Hugo's work and has helped her to sell numerous pieces 800 miles away from her hometown of Bozeman, Mont. It's one small success story, but one that seems common at Art in the High Desert.

"[Dave and Carla] go above and beyond where a lot of other shows don't," said Hugos. "I depend on that because this is how I make my living."

Despite the economy's downturn (which hits just as the festival began), applications were up 40 percent this year, making the 110 vendor spots extremely competitive for artists from across the U.S. and Canada. The quality of work helped Art in the High Desert achieve a ranking by the national Art Fair Source Guide of 15 out of more than 600 such shows in 2012.

"Art in the High Desert, in the artist's eyes, does everything right," said David Bjurstrom, of Austin, Texas. Bjurstrom draws remarkably detailed, almost photographic pencil landscapes in black-and-white. He attended the festival last year and made the cut again for 2013. "They know what is good for the artists, and they also know, as artists, what public wants to see. That combination has created a show that is as close to perfect as you can get."

The showings are diverse in a range of categories including ceramics, digital art, drawing, fiber (wearable and non-wearable), glass, jewelry, metal work, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and wood.

"[Art in the High Desert] is not all the other stuff. It's not like Art in the Pearl; it's not like SummerFest. We don't have 15 food vendors or a beer garden," explained Fox. "This is a juried fine art show. That's all it is. If you're showing here, you're the best at what you do."

Artists to check out:

Amy Flynn—Raleigh, N.C.

Fobots (Found Object Robots)—Fobots are made from odds and ends—pressure gauges, kitchen appliances, pool balls, yoyos, salt shakers nuts and bolts and other modified finds. Flynn transforms junk into treasured miniature robots that radiate unique personalities and aesthetics.

Larry Stephenson—Wichita, Kan.

Digital Prints—Stephenson incorporates printed pages of newspapers, books, and photographs of different textured objects, tears them apart, then pastes and layers them back together in a modern collage-type format.

Raquel Edwards—Portland

Encaustic photographs—Using beeswax, tree resin and non-harmful solvents and chemicals, Edwards has developed a unique style of photographic development and modification mixing oil paints, digital prints and earth pigments. The technique gives a fuzzy, dreamlike quality to her nature photography.

Art in the High Desert | Aug. 23-25

10 am | Old Mill District | Free

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